In July this year, as Bradley Wiggins was lining up on the morning of the last stage of the Tour de France, the race was being discussed on BBC Radio Five Live in the UK. The presenter was suggesting that he found it a little odd that they had the last stage. After all, it is universally accepted that Wiggins has now won the race, he mused, so why bother with the last stage, and if we are
going to bother with it, then why doesn't somebody go for
broke and try to win? He struggled to come up with another sport where the winner was known before
the event was even over. Well, this is the sport of cycling, and we
like to do
Then, of course, USADA launched a spanner into the workings of his argument.
the UCI accept the argument put forward by USADA relating to the doping
activities of Lance Armstrong – and they have 21 days in
appeal to CAS
under WADA rules should they wish to do so – then the Texan
be stripped of
all results from 1998 onwards. Of course, this would mean that we will
the winner of the 1999 Tour de France even thirteen years after the
supposedly finished. Or the 2000 Tour de France. Or indeed, the
Tours de France. In fact, according to the USADA Reasoned Decision, 20
21 podium finishers (not 21 individuals) have been directly linked to
poses a significant problem for us, the fans. We love the racing, we
scenery, and we love the battles, but we don' know who wins.
think they do, but others disagree. Occasionally we agree,but
then the winner fails a doping test further down the line, and we are
to square one. What are we to do then but to assume that all the
winners are guilty?
it is now fourteen years since the Festina affair shattered the image
cycling, when soigneur Willy Voet was stopped by French
Customs agents as he tried to cross the French-Belgian border driving
nothing less than a mobile pharmacy.
The UCI had to act following this, and it said it had. The 1999 Tour de
would be a Tour of Renewal,
but it stood idly by as French rider, Christophe Bassons, was
ejected from the Tour de France by pressure of the peloton, for simply
questioning the performance of Lance Armstrong on the stage to
Instead they feted Lance Armstrong as the new winner; a fresh beacon in
world of cycling. An entry into the vast US market.
what a poster boy he was: the American cancer survivor. An inspiration;
come from being at death’s door to winning the most gruelling
sporting event in
the world. He won it for the next six years too, and the UCI lapped it
in 2005, after several years of suspicion, it was a French journalist,
Dominique Ressiot, who set off alarm bells by claiming that he had
Lance Armstrong had taken EPO to win the 1999 Tour de France.
UCI appointed Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman to investigate the findings
the EPO. Vrijman, in turn, exonerated Armstrong and instead was
critical of the
World Anti Doping Agency. The UCI supported Vrijman.
This was now 2006 and the sport was still clean.
than a month later, Operation Puerto broke, and both the Astana and
teams withdrew from the Tour de France, alongside Ivan Basso. That was
pre-race favourites out of the Tour (Ullrich, Basso, Vinokourov). The
de France went ahead and was won by Floyd Landis. He failed a drug test
win was awarded to Oscar Pereiro.
clearly hadn’t moved on from 1998, and still it appeared that
people were, and one of those was Irish former professional turned
Paul Kimmage. And Kimmage wasn’t asking questions just in the
Puerto in 2006, he was asking questions over a decade before this.
first exploded spectacularly onto the pages of the media in 1990, after
imploding meekly in the professional cycling peloton.
extremely talented amateur cyclist, he came within two days of winning
and followed this up with sixth place in the 1985 World Amateur Cycling
championship. In many quarters he was widely seen as the next hopeful
Irish pipeline of the 70s and 80s following the path ridden by Kelly,
Martin Earley into the professional ranks.
a similar level of success failed to materialise, and he retired in
four years in the professional ranks. The only bright lights he saw
period were the headlights of the voiturebalai.
Kimmage claims this was due to the extent of doping in the sport. It
that he was no longer winning, but he was no longer being able to keep
all of this was in the years before EPO hit the peloton. Exchanging the
for the pen, Kimmage detailed the life of a journeyman pro in the book,
Rough Ride”. He won awards for it, and whatever
of the sport of
cycling, it is a must for any fan’s bookshelf. It was in this
Kimmage’s story really begins, as he was the first former
expose the culture of drug taking in the sport of cycling. This was in
and for the most part of the last twenty years or so, Kimmage has
the most vociferous critics of the dark side of cycling.
the time of publishing Kimmage courted much controversy, and became a
polarizing figure in the sport of cycling. Amongst those who disagreed
at the time is someone who knows Paul Kimmage very well. His name is
the book, Kimmage has worked for the Sunday Independent in Ireland, and
Sunday Times in the UK
covering many sports, and often
successfully. He has
five times been winner of the Sports Journalism Association Interviewer
year, and in 2012 won the British Sports Book Award for Biography of
for “Engage”, an emotional roller coaster of a
rugby player, Matt Hampson, who was left quadriplegicafter
tragic sporting accident.
Kimmage hasn’t only focused on the sport of cycling, but it
found himself coming back to time and time again. This isn’t
or a lack of imagination, but due to a lack of traction. The issues
drew him to put pen to paper at the back end of the 1980s are still
the sport, and still, he feels, the authorities are not taking the
action against them.
his greatest battles were with Lance Armstrong, for whom Kimmage had
constant thorn in the side. Their confrontations came to a head at the
Tour of California when Kimmage asked Armstrong a question about
Armstrong answered aggressively and referred specifically to a comment
Irishman had made previously about Armstrong being the
“cancer” in the sport of
recently McQuaid has described Kimmage as having “a chip on
two concrete blocks on each shoulder.”
Stinging criticism indeed, though it could be argued that someone who
concrete block on each shoulder, would, through this, be a fairly
is now a story that could have Hollywood written all over it. The paths
Kimmage and McQuaid have been crossing ever since Kimmage was a child,
McQuaid’s father would race with Paul Kimmage’s
the 50s and 60s.
Indeed, it was Pat McQuaid himself, who managed Paul during that
Milk Race and the later World Championships.
next time their paths cross will be in the Est Vaudois District Court
Switzerland on December 12.
is because UCI President McQuaid, and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen,
a lawsuit against Kimmage in January this year, accusing him of
that their ‘reputation has been seriously damaged’
articles written by
Kimmage. Each are seeking damages of 8,000 Swiss francs (about
€6,600) and an
apology in the media. According to the Sunday Independent,
claim says that Kimmage was ‘dishonest’ in accusing
tolerated tests, of being dishonest people, of not having a sense of
responsibility, of not applying the same rules to everyone.’
Kimmage is a journalist, so surely it is his job to be
journalist is the mouthpiece of the fan, Kimmage is asking the
concern us. Look at any cycling forum and the questions are not about
Contador has for breakfast, or what Thor Hushovd’s favourite
colour is. We want
to know who the real winners are, who is doping, how it can be stopped.
gets annoying, it is because we aren’t satisfied with the
part, the action against Kimmage is linked to a similar case the
McQuaid/Verbruggen tandem has just won against Floyd Landis. In his
the Swiss courts found in favour of the pair after Landis alleged that
governing body had colluding in covering up a positive test by Lance
at the 2001 Tour de Suisse.
These interviews were conducted by Kimmage, and published in The
prior to Kimmage losing his job at the paper due to cutbacks.
the suit was filed in the weeks after Kimmage left the shelter of the newspaper.
to the UCI, "The case against Mr. Kimmage is limited to false
and does not concern other opinions of Mr. Kimmage. The case is based
protection of the personality rights. Under the applicable Swiss law
is directed against the person who made the defamatory statements. In
this person is Mr. Kimmage.”
Landis, Kimmage initially had no plans to fight the case:
what action he would take, he said he didn’t intend
the claim. “I
am reluctant to even put a stamp on an envelope and send it back, as
going to cost me money…the cost of a stamp is actually too
money to waste
on those people,” he said. “But I suppose it will
that at least. It is
at least going to cost me a stamp.”
is possibly what Verbruggen and McQuaid wanted – ask for
enough to not
make it cost effective for Kimmage or Landis to fight, whilst possibly
able to rely on UCI funds themselves.
They deliberately chose not to chase The
Sunday Times or L’Équipe,
both of which have considerably more resources than
Kimmage or Landis.
Nor are they planning on taking action against Tyler Hamilton or his
for the allegations which appear in “The Secret
though the book
seems to give credence to the supposed “false
levelled by Kimmage.
in the aftermath of a crazy summer, which has seen Hamilton lift the
lid on the
behind the scenes doping regime at US Postal, and the USADA case
Armstrong, support for Kimmage has grown considerably (the case having
largely unnoticed when filed in January). The satirical website Cyclismas.org
even set up a Paul Kimmage defence fund, which to date has amassed
more than 1800 contributors. The Twittersphere and blogspace has been
with messages of support (enough to even prompt Kimmage himself to
learn how to
tweet), and even names from within the sport have tweeted their support.
for one has referred to the UCI as “shameful” for
in which they are
is even some dissent at the heart of the UCI, with Robin Parisotto
Pat McQuaid should step down as President should the USADA report on
confirm that the UCI was involved in the alleged Tour de Suisse cover
Ashenden, who was part of the UCI’s expert group on the bio
passport, has also thrown
his hat in the ring:
for Paul Kimmage, my emotion when I read that he was being sued was one
anger. That's the first reaction I have whenever I perceive someone
bullied or being forced into an unfair contest. I had no hesitation
what began as a small legal case to silence Kimmage with the minimum of
is turning out to be a referendum on the future of cycle sport and a
confidence in the UCI itself. Kimmage is gearing up for the battle:
notion that I would apologize in the first place is laughable. The
I can do so now, given how many people have stood up for me and have
hands in their pockets for me, makes it even more improbable.
It’s just up to
me now to go and take them on.”
the fan, the case is not about Kimmage proving he hasn’t
the UCI, but
about the UCI proving to the fans of this beautiful sport that it is
corrupt, does taking doping seriously, and can go forward with its
the best interests of the sport rather than themselves. Inadvertently,
their petty actions, McQuaid and Verbruggen have succeeded only in
themselves in the dock.
stands out most significantly about the UCI is the apparent conflict of
interest in its roles in the sport: it is there both to promote the
also to police the sport. There is little or no accountability
no one to
watch over the watchdog. To an extent we the fans do –
football and other sports, it is an odd relationship. The fans
does not cost the UCI or cycling money in a direct way, in the same
for example, NY Yankees, LA Lakers or Manchester United playing in
empty stands would. By and large, cycling is a free to access sport.
this is one of the beauties of cycling – in what other sport
Joe get so close to his idols? – but it leaves the fans
voice in the
face of the all-powerful UCI.
within the organisation itself, it seems the power of the President is
absolute. Beyond this, it still seems that Verbruggen pulls the
strings. It was
he that nominated and backed Pat McQuaid as his successor in 2005.
McQuaid was re-elected for a second term in 2009, he stood unopposed,
still intends to stand again at the end of 2013. At the time of his
2005, questions were raised by Sylvia Schenk as to the seemingly biased
given to McQuaid over the opposition, Darshan Singh and Gregorio Moreno.
No action was taken other Sylvia Schenk stepping down from
position on the
was also involved in the allegations around Armstrong’s
EPO in the 1999 Tour de France, and was strongly critical of the
UCI and its president Hein Verbruggen are more interested in finding
than clearing up the Armstrong doping case.”
it was she who raised questions over the donations Armstrong supposedly
the UCI, and his apparent closeness to Hein Verbruggen during his
tenure as UCI
1998 the UCI has done a lot to combat doping but everything is
Armstrong is concerned,”
are all questions that the UCI needs to answer. Through the allegations
Kimmage and Landis, the book by Tyler, the expected testimonies
relating to the
USADA case, and the questions raised by Schenk over the years, there is
strong case building against the UCI. To date the UCI has avoided
these questions but the time is coming where it simply has to.
addition, the UCI has also made enemies with race organisers and teams
Pro Tour. The UCI compelled the grand tours to take Pro Tour status,
guaranteeing itself a greater share of TV rights. Even today
are hardly falling over themselves to garner World Tour status: as it
Argos-Shimano from the Pro Conti ranks has applied for an upgrade.
the UCI even care about the teams? Some think not. One team manager
the UCI’s attitude towards them, saying: “They make
they’re listening and
then it’s a case of ‘Okay, run along, the adults
biggest conflict is that the UCI manages the anti-doping actions within
cycling. Surely if its role is also to promote the sport of cycling, it
its interests to keep the number of doping positives low? It says that
doing a lot in the fight against doping, but the Hamilton revelations
otherwise. Of course, they have caught dopers in the past but the real
names have escaped. Operation Puerto, which led to suspensions of Jan
Ivan Basso (amongst others) was a result on an investigation by the
police, and not direct UCI action. Likewise, the Oil for Drugs affair
was led by Italy’s anti-narcotic agency, NAS, and Willy Voet
caught by customs
officials. Yes, they took Contador, but it took longer for the
organisations to come to a decision on his case than his ultimate ban
again, this assumes the UCI is really trying to promote the sport of
as opposed to itself.
is it really? What is it doing to address the appalling situation in
cycling? Seemingly not a lot if you listen to the riders, like
Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead.
2012 Olympic Games in London should have shown the sport of cycling at
best. Whilst the racing, particularly in the velodrome, was great, it
hardly be called the best cycling has to offer. Though there were ten
medals to be won on the track this year, there were twelve in 2004. The
riband event of the Olympics used to be seen as the Individual Pursuit;
this no longer exists. Nor does the Kilometre time trial. The keirin is
there, but there is lots of talk about money changing hands between
the UCI to get its berth. Given we wait four years for the Olympic
should expect to see the best riders in attendance. The UCI thinks
– in 2012, for the individual track events, only one
was allowed to enter. Imagine the 100m final if Jamaica had only been
as stated earlier, the sport can be a beautiful spectacle; a battle of
riders on the best roads. Well they have just selected Qatar for the
Road championships. If racing up and down desert roads in 41 degree
heat is how
the UCI sees the sport developing, then it is not a sport I
we need is for Kimmage to win the case against the UCI in December
– not for
himself, but for the fans and the future of the sport. Maybe then the
wake up to what is really going on and initiate changes from within.
even before then, the UCI needs to make its position 100% clear in
the USADA report on Lance Armstrong.
For more details on the Paul Kimmage
Defence Fund, please
In August 2012 a USADA investigation
Armstrong guilty of
doping. Armstrong opted not to fight the charges
“Lance Armstrong: key
excerpts from the USADA
doping report” – Daily
Telegraph, October 10, 2012:
“Hoping to put behind the
scandal of 1998, Tour organisers had dubbed the 1999 version, the
Bassons was writing in a Tour column for
September 23, 2005
The name under which the Tour of Britain
1958-1993. The race was ultimately won by American rider, Matt Eaton,
Kimmage dropping to 31st place on GC. The USA team was made up of
Carmichael, Alexi Grewal, Andy Hampsten, Steve Speaks, and Steve
finished, and all certainly made names for themselves in the years to
French for “broom wagon”. The name for the vehicle
Cycle Road Race picking up stragglers (or “sweeping them
up”) who are unable to
make it to the finish of the race within the time permitted. This is
the last vehicle on the road.
“When When Rough Ride came out
in 1990, McQuaid was
Kimmage, notably in a television interview on the Late, Late Show,
top chat show.” Extract from “Who is Pat McQuaid
and why is
he running our
sport?” by Lionel Birnie, Cycle
Sport, May 2012
Interview on Irish radio on 9/10/2008.
video here from
Canadian Cyclist: a http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUAO7xmNKeA
“Who is Pat McQuaid and why is
he running our
sport?” by Lionel
Birnie, Cycle Sport,
“Who is Pat McQuaid and why is
he running our
sport?” by Lionel
Birnie, Cycle Sport,
Verbruggen and McQuaid
vague about why this is. Per Verbruggen: “Asked why he and
taken action against Kimmage and not the publications Verbruggen
claimed that only the author could face a legal case.”
won't take legal
action against Hamilton by Daniel Benson, CyclingNews,
Per McQuaid: “Cyclingnews asked McQuaid why he had not taken
against L’Équipe or The Sunday Times for
comments, but instead pursued Kimmage personally through the courts.
need to ask our lawyers, I’m not going to comment on
McQuaid said.” McQuaid
reluctant to elaborate on Kimmage case by Barry Ryan, CyclingNews,
September 23, 2012,
SHAMEFUL. They continue to sue Kimmage which is disgusting and
speaks out proving he must have nothing to do with cycling.”
“Ashenden: I don't know
passport file was ever
sent to any of us experts’” Interview with Shane